2012 Spring Trip Map Overview (can be scrolled and zoomed)

Here is an overview of our trip:

View Wildflower Tourist 2012 Spring Trip Map and Location List in a larger map

Our 2012 Spring Trip

We are back from our visit to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding National Forests and other natural areas in North Carolina and Tennessee.

We take nature's beauty as a witness of God's love for us, and are happy to share that beauty with you in our photographs and descriptions of what we saw.

Please checking back as we fill in missing entries.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thursday, April 10, 2012- Home Again!

Isn't it amazing how enthused I was about going on our spring trip? Now I'm enthused about being home again.

Being away gives us a new view of our lives. Coming home puts our lives back into perspective, and gives us new energy to take on the tasks ahead of us.

I always tell people that there is no lack of things to do in this world. A vacation can give us new energy and enthusiasm to work on these tasks and projects.

Thanks for coming along on our trip!

Tom and Letty.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Monday and Tuesday, May 7 and 8, 2012- Shenandoah NP and Front Royal Campground

We went up onto Skyland Drive in Shenandoah National Park. It was foggy, so we went to the nearest campground at the Lewis Mountain campground.  We found too much fog on the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park to make us want to stay there more than one night (Sunday night), so we went back down off the mountain and had a late lunch at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant. Monday night  we stayed at a private campground in Front Royal, VA. We are hoping to see the trillium and maybe Yellow Ladyslippers Tuesday at Thompson Wildlife Management Area, about 13 miles from the campground. We were there last year and want to check it out on our way home. I am still trying to fill in the blog for April 28 through May 6, so check back.

Our foggy campsite at Lewis Mountain.

Stopping along Skyland Drive to look for wildflowers.

Letty playing the peg game at Cracker Barrel Restaurant.

Down off of the mountain the weather was not foggy, just cloudy.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wednesday, May 2, 2012- Bear Creek Campground

We are in a private campground and getting ready to head north on our slow trip home.

I am trying to catch up the travelog while we have internet access, so keep checking back and looking for posts for April 22 to May 2.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday, April 29, 2012- The Oconaluftee River Trail

The Oconaluftee River Trail runs along the edge of the river and is relatively flat. It leaves form the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail goes along the edge of the historic farm exhibit, and then into the woods.

Letty on the beginning of the trail- the visitor center is in the background.

Scarlet Pimpernel Blooms


A nice view of the river.
Blue-eyed Grass.

A Wild Geranium hiding under May Apple leaves.
Letty Looks at the traditional fence on the way back to the vistor center.
The large open meadow near the visitor center.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012- Shopping in Cherokee and the Elk herd.

We are on the NC side of the Smoky Mountains in Cherokee, NC. Will be in the Smokemont Campground for 2 more nights and then off to Asheville, NC and the Botanical Gardens and the Aboretum.

We are able to do this quick post compliments of the local Arby's Restaurant. We will be posting in the next couple of days about our 1 week (or so) stay in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. More photos will come with that.

Be sure to check back to see what we saw and did in the mountains!

Update for this post:

Because it was rainy and not hiking weather, we went into the town of Cherokee to shop for food and souvenirs. The town of Cherokee has painted bear statues throughout the downtown area, each with a different theme and decoration. Letty picked the one in the photo as her favorite and asked me to take a photo of it. In a whimsical mood, I took took a photo of me kissing it. I love it! (The photo!)

On the way back to the campground we stopped at the National Park visitor center to check the hours, and found the Elk grazing near the parking lot. The park has been re-introducing the Elk to the park for a few years now.

Letty liked this painted bear the best.

Tom kisses a (painted) bear!!

Part of the Elk herd came up to the visitor center in the evening to munch on the clover..

Moose Parker loved seeing the Elk herd. (Distant cousins, I guess.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012- Over to Smokemont Campground on the North Carolina side of the Smokies.

Along Little River Road there are short trails going into the woods called "Quiet Walkways". Without gearing up or being experienced at hiking, a visitor can take a quiet walk into the wood to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the forest.

Sign at a "Quiet Walkway".

I walked into the woods along this short "Quiet Walkway" trail.

Another trail on the opposite side of the road led me to this moss with spore heads.

I took this photo of a small butterfly at the RV dump station  near the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

The road across the mountain from the Tennessee side to the North Carolina side has many scenic views. Stopping at the overlooks makes it easier to enjoy them.

Moose Parker, Chipper, and Misty had their own picnic at the Chimney Tops Picnic Area.

Bishop' Cap blooms on theCove Hardwood Nature Trail
at the Chimney Tops Picnic Area.

Roots of a fallen tree along the Cove Hardwood Nature Trail.

Newfound Gap Road has a 360 degree curve on it!! Really- like a corkscrew, the road climbs up , around, and crosses over itself on a bridge.

Another tourist was nice enough to take my photo at one of our favorite overlooks. A nice place to take a break from climbing on a very windy mountains road.

The small white line between the trees is the road from Newfound Gap down to Cherokee on the north Carolina side of the mountains.

Another view of the road from the Newfound Gap Parking area.

An un-retouched photo of Letty in the RV with reflections of me and the trees and the other parked cars in the background. Sort of a self-made photo montage.

The parking area at Newfound Gap.

Letty took a 'walk' with me around the Smokemont Campground.

I had to concentrate to cross this narrow bridge on the short nature trail at Smokemont Campground. Watch your step- Robin Hood may pop out of the woods and fight Little John on the bridge right behind you!

Fleabane in the campground.

Letty waiting to show me a wildflower along the campground road.

This is my 'photo tracker'. It records a GPS location every 5 seconds, which can be downloaded in the computer and compared with the timestamp on a digital photo to determine where it was taken. Here I am marking the exact time I took this photo, so calibrating the times will be easier later.

Blue Phlox.

The 'Crew' in there normal evening cave. We don't know what they do after we close the door- but they are quiet until we open the door again in the morning. Then they come out and sit on the bed.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012- Bud Ogle Trail, Gatlinburg, and The Sugarlands Visitor Center.

 I wanted to hike the Bud Ogle Trail because many years ago I saw and photographed a Yellow Ladyslipper along this short, 3/4 mile loop trail. I even mark the location of the flower with a GPS unit. Unfortunately, I was using a different co-ordinate system then, and couldn't convert it to the system I had with me this time. I looked for the rock I remember the flower being near, but didn't even see an area that looked similar.

The Bud Ogle Trial leaves from behind the Bud Ogle Cabin.

Red Trillium.

Clintonia Lilies.
 To get to the Bud Ogle Trail, you have to drive through the town of Gatlinburg, TN., a very touristy area; nice to walk around, but you pretty much have to pay for parking.

Gatlinburg is filled with attractions, but you must park and walk.

The little car outside Letty's window is in front of the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum.

Wild Geraniums, as well as other wildflowers, can be view right outside the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

The visitor center has exhibits like this one, a gift shop, and rangers that can answer question about the park, hiking trails, weather reports, and other park information.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012- Little River Trail and Elkmont Cookout

We went on the Little River Trail in the past and knew that Letty could easily travel on it. The trail follows the Little River and is a wide, hard packed gravel trail with a very gentle uphill slope from the trailhead near the Elkmont Campground.
Letty on the Little River Trail.
Yellow Trillium.

White Violets.

Letty views the river.

Tom takes his own picture along the trail.


Showy Orchis (Orchids)- a little past prime color.

When we got back to the campsite, it was time to cook the ribs that had been marinating all day in the fridge.  Letty suggested potatoes with them, so I made wedges.

Inspire by KFC, Tom prepared potato wedges for the campfire.

Marinated ribs are ready for the basket, while Letty does embroidery.

Ribs cooking in the basket with potato wedges roasting below in foil.